Randy Moss: 'I've always wanted to be normal'

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Randy Moss: 'I've always wanted to be normal'

NEW ORLEANS - "I've always wanted to be normal," Randy Moss said Tuesday from a podium in the Louisiana Superdome.

During Media Day at Super Bowl XVVII, Moss wore a 49ers hat cocked to the side, a scrubby growth of beard and a wry smile for an hour of give-and-take with the media.

An unusual player, an unusual guy happily trapped for 60 minutes, giving his Moss-ian world view.

If he'd been like this more often -- less prickly with the media, making a greater effort to endear himself -- maybe he'd be lionized like Ray Lewis. But Moss is going to do what Moss is going to do. Remaining real -- i.e., his own man at all times -- hasn't made his life any easier. But it has made him one of the more compelling NFL players in terms of impact on the game, younger players and fans.

He is beloved and the people who like him least are the people he held court for on Tuesday.

"I live for myself," Moss said when I asked him why he's been so reluctant to share himself. "The thing about the media is that, everything is not said and the truth is not always told. I grew up respecting myself. I do respect other people. But when it comes to the pen and pad that you guys are writing on right now, it's just . . . you got a job to do and papers to sell. I've never come off negative. A lot of people see my focus. I don't like anything that comes outside of football to get in the way of the game."

If you parse his words, you can certainly find times in Moss' 15-year career where he's let things outside football get in the way. But those have been the exceptions, not the rule.

He's generally been about football and being with his teammates. Not selling himself or being seen at clubs or currying endorsements. Those attendant sidelights that some players embrace are, according to Moss, irritations.

"I love the game, I love to play in between the white lines," he said. "It's like a kid at school. You're sitting in the classroom and the teacher says it's recess and that door opens and all the kids just go running and screaming and jumping on swing sets and swinging. That's how I try to treat the football.

"Anytime that I step on the field, that's when I feel free," Moss added. "I can do anything I want, act any way I want because you're having fun and it's all a game. It's just like you and me sitting down to play a game of Monopoly. I love to compete and keep it near my heart."

At one point Tuesday, Moss described himself as the NFL's greatest receiver of all time.

Jerry Rice could make a convincing case otherwise. And Rice did recommend on Tuesday that Moss check the numbers. But Moss may well be, as Tom Brady often described him, the greatest downfield threat in NFL history.

In 218 regular-season NFL games, Moss has made 982 catches for 15,292 yards with 156 touchdowns. In 14 playoff games, he's caught another 52 balls for 936 yards and 10 touchdowns.

In his only previous Super Bowl, the ill-fated SB42 with the Patriots, Moss caught the go-ahead touchdown for the Patriots with 2:42 remaining.

While Lewis figuratively rides his chariot down Bourbon Street to celebrate the end of his Hall of Fame career, Moss toils on. On Tuesday, he said he wants to keep playing.

Why not jump spend the week referencing his own "legacy," as Lewis did Tuesday without a trace of self-awareness?

"That's not me," said Moss. "I'm not a celebrater. I love to do my work and go home. A lot of people see me out there in public . . . man, I've always wanted to be normal. For my whole life from elementary school up to now . . . I've been a big fan of Michael Jackson. I remember his sister or brother saying, 'Michael always just wanted to be normal.' I'm not putting myself on Michael Jackson's level, but I understood where they were coming from, I always wanted to go to the park and play a game or go shopping or go to the grocery store.

"I've always wanted to be normal," he reiterated. "Whenever people see me and they're overwhelmed that they're meeting me for the first time, I just want them to know that I'm normal. Hopefully one day, all of this will just die down and I can go play a pickup game or go to the grocery store and be normal."

Belichick taking wait-and-see approach with Stork's status

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Belichick taking wait-and-see approach with Stork's status

FOXBORO -- Bryan Stork has had a whirlwind few days. 

On Wednesday, news broke that Stork had been informed of his release. Then before that move became official, the Patriots and Redskins worked out a trade to send the third-year center to Washington. After that, indications were that Stork was retiring, and the Redskins were unsure as to whether or not he would even report. 

Stork eventually made up his mind, tweeted that he was ready to start a new chapter in his career -- a tweet he has since deleted -- and made his way to the Redskins.

The latest update on Stork's saga is that he failed his physical and that his right have reverted back to the Patriots. When asked about the situation, Bill Belichick chose to wait on illuminating the media of his plans since the picture was still a bit hazy.

"I don’t know if that’s official," Belichick said of Stork's rights. "That sounds like the way it is going to go."

Asked if the Patriots would be releasing Stork, as they originally intended, Belichick replied, "Well, we’ll find out exactly what the story is and whenever that is we’ll make the best decision that we can."

Stay tuned.

Injured offensive linemen Cooper, Mason return to Patriots practice fields

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Injured offensive linemen Cooper, Mason return to Patriots practice fields

FOXBORO -- The Patriots saw two of their injured offensive linemen return to practice on Monday.

Both Jonathan Cooper (out since suffering a foot injury on July 30) and Shaq Mason (reported hand injury) were on the practice field for the team's warm-up period. The pair then headed down to a lower field to do some conditioning with others. 

Special teams ace Matthew Slater, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, running back Dion Lewis and tackle Sebastian Vollmer were missing from the session. Lewis and Vollmer remain on the physically unable to perform list and won't be prepared to begin the season Week 1. Grugier-Hill missed Friday's preseason game with the Panthers due to an absence.

New Patriots edge defender Barkevious Mingo was present for his first practice with the Patriots. He was wearing the No. 51 which was most recently worn by former defensive captain Jerod Mayo. 

Danny Amendola (PUP), Tre' Jackson (PUP), Rob Ninkovich, Shea McClellin and Malcolm Mitchell went down to the lower field for conditioning after warmups. Jabaal Sheard, who has dealt with a knee injury he suffered against the Saints in New England's first preseason game, remained with the team for drills after warming up. Also, Alan Branch, who was suspended by the Patriots for a week and reinstated late last week, was present at practice. 

Belichick on Knighton release: He worked hard, lost weight...just didn't work out

Belichick on Knighton release: He worked hard, lost weight...just didn't work out

FOXBORO -- Terrance Knighton wasn't released because he was out of shape. Listening to Bill Belichick over the course of the last few days, it sounds as though Knighton's primary issue was learning the two-gapping technique that the Patriots expect their defensive tackles to execute.

"It just didn't work out," Belichick said when asked about Knighton on Monday. "He came in, worked hard, lost weight, got in good condition, tried to do the things we asked him to do. Just other people ahead of him." 

After signing this offseason, Knighton worked diligently to get into the type of condition the Patriots expected from him. The team also set him up with an in-home chef in order to help him manage his diet.

While Knighton was conditioned well enough to practice and play with the Patriots, it seemed as though he was not able to anchor, take on blocks, shed, and react to ball-carriers in the way the Patriots desired. In the team's second preseason game, against the Bears, Knighton seemed to have some difficulty holding his ground and preventing Chicago's offensive linemen from moving him off of his spot. 

The Patriots opted to play younger defensive linemen, like rookies Vincent Valentine and Woodrow Hamilton, over Knighton against the Panthers on Friday.

"Some new techniques, some new things...different things than what he's used to doing," Belichick said when asked about Knighton after the game. "We played the younger guys tonight. We didn't get as much of a look at him as some other players. He played a little more last week. I think there's good competition at that position. We'll just have to see how it all plays out."

Knighton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots this offseason and was guaranteed $250,000.